The canine morbillivirus strain associated with an epizootic in Caspian seals provides new insights into the evolutionary history of this virus
Canine morbillivirus (canine distemper virus; CDV) is a worldwide distributed morbillivirus that causes sporadic cases and recurrent epizootics among an increasing number of wild, feral, and domestic animal species. We investigated the evolutionary history of CDV strains involved in the 1988 Lake Baikal (CDVPS88) and the 2000 Caspian Sea (CDVPC00) seal die-offs by recovery of full-length sequences from archived material using next-generation sequencing. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses indicated that CDVPC00 constitutes a novel strain in a separate clade (tentatively termed "Caspian") from the America-1 clade, which is comprised of older vaccine strains. The America-1/Caspian monophyletic group is positioned most basally with respect to other clades and is estimated to have separated from other CDV clades around 1832. Our results indicate that CDVPC00 recovered from the epizootic in the Caspian Sea in 2000 belongs to a previously undetected novel clade and constitutes the most ancestral wild-type CDV clade.